- ED overcrowding increases in July
The fourth review of the Emergency Department National Agreement, accepted last February, was undertaken by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) earlier today.
At this meeting the INMO identified a number of areas where health service management had failed to implement the agreement, to date, with particular emphasis upon staffing issues.
In particular the INMO highlighted the following:
• the number of admitted patients, on trolleys in Emergency Departments or wards, had increased by 12% in the first three weeks of July of this year compared to the same period in July 2015;
• notwithstanding this management continued to delay the filling of all vacant Staff Nurse posts in Emergency Departments;
• a number of the posts established, under the ED Agreement, to assist with patient flow, continue to remain unfilled with management failing to act with the urgency the current overcrowding situation requires; and
• the failure of some hospital managements to ensure, on a 24/7 basis, the nationally agreed Escalation Policy is operationalised as an ongoing priority.
In highlighting these shortcomings the INMO clearly indicated that a continuing failure to implement all strands of the agreement will, inevitably, lead to the recommencement of industrial action, due to overcrowding and clinical care concerns, in September/October by INMO members.
In order to prioritise the implementation of all outstanding aspects, of the agreement, it was agreed, at today’s review, that a three person group (one nominee each from the INMO/Department of Health/HSE) will be established, immediately, to visit/ review all hospitals to ensure all staffing issues are addressed and all barriers, to the filling of vacant posts, are removed.
In addition this three person group will ensure that all current fourth year undergraduate student nurses are offered permanent posts when they graduate, next September, as one step in alleviating the continuing staffing crisis.
The WRC is to undertake its fifth review, of the ED Agreement, on Friday, 2nd September 2016.
Speaking after today’s review INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said:
“It is quite apparent, from feedback from our members in Emergency Departments across the country, that they remain very frustrated, and angry, at the continuing levels of overcrowding and the negative impact this is having on their ability to provide safe care. At the review, this morning, the INMO clearly advised, both this WRC and health service management, that the current situation cannot continue and industrial action was inevitable in the absence of significant progress on all staffing issues.
Arising from our assessment of the situation the INMO is increasingly concerned that health service management have taken a step back, from prioritising the Emergency Department overcrowding issue, and this has resulted in the increased levels of overcrowding in recent weeks. At today’s review the INMO again reaffirmed that dealing with Emergency Department overcrowding must remain a priority for the health service”.
The INMO will continue to monitor the situation, over the coming weeks, particularly ahead of the next ED Taskforce Implementation Group meeting scheduled for 16th August 2016.